New London jury finds Grant guilty of manslaughter

David Grant talks to his lawyer Sebastian DeSantis after the jury read their verdict at New London Superior State Court Wednesday morning, April 1, 2015. (Aaron Flaum/NorwichBulletin.com pool photo)
David Grant talks to his lawyer Sebastian DeSantis after the jury read their verdict at New London Superior State Court Wednesday morning, April 1, 2015. (Aaron Flaum/NorwichBulletin.com pool photo)

A 12-member jury found David J. Grant guilty of the lesser charge of first-degree manslaughter with a firearm in the shooting death of one woman and wounding of another at a Norwich bar in 2012.

Grant had faced a murder charge, but it appears the jury could not come to agreement on whether he intentionally set out to kill someone as the murder charge requires.

Grant, 35, is accused of fatally shooting Donna Richardson, 45, and wounding her niece, Crystal Roderick, now 31, on June 24, 2012, at the Mai Thai Restaurant and Bar off Laurel Avenue in Norwich. According to testimony, Grant shot into a crowd of customers gathered on the balcony of the bar at closing time.

The jury sent a note to Judge Barbara Bailey Jongbloed at 10:50 a.m., saying it had come to a verdict. The jury started to deliberate for about a hour Monday and the entire day Tuesday. 

As the jury walked out, some looked at Grant while others looked straight ahead. Grant, who was wearing a blue dress shirt and black dress pants, did not show any emotion.

A jury forewoman said that the jury did not find him guilty of murder, but did find him guilty of the lesser charge of first-degree manslaughter with a firearm and of first-degree assault . Jongbloed found him guilty of criminal possession of a firearm.

When Grant is sentenced on May 27, he faces up to 65 years in prison, 20 years of which are mandatory.

Neither relatives of the victims nor of Grant were present for the verdict reading.

Reached by phone later, Roderick, the surviving gunshot victim, said she was "very emotional" after hearing the verdict. She knew Grant and considered him a friend, she said, but that ended after the shootings. Roderick had testified for the state, then remained in court with other family members to hear the other evidence.

"I'm just happy justice was served," Roderick said. "I hope he rots in his jail cell and that he suffers everything I had to suffer."

Prosecutor Stephen M. Carney said he was satisfied with the jury’s decision.

“I’m very grateful for the jury,” said Carney. “They worked tremendously hard.”

Defense attorney Sebastian O. DeSantis said that he plans to appeal the verdict.

“I’m happy that it’s not murder, but I’m disappointed that it’s Man 1,” said DeSantis. “Murder would have been a lot worse.”

Testimony at the trial indicated that Grant had moved from New York City to Norwich to sell drugs.

Grant, arrested in Baltimore six months after the shootings, admitted during a police interrogation, which was videotaped and shown to the jury, that he fired a gun into the crowd. He said he was scared because he had just been told that Isaiah "Zay" Lee, who he said had shot a friend of his, was in the crowd. Grant had been shot himself about a year earlier, losing vision in one eye.

Grant said during the interrogation that he threw the gun, along with the bullets, out the car window as he drove away from the scene with Steven "Cuda" Velez. Police recovered shell casings in a nearby parking lot and a Mohegan Sun groundskeeper found the gun in a pile of mulch. The jury heard from lab experts who indicated Grant's DNA was on the .38 caliber revolver and that bullet fragments extracted from the two victims came from the revolver.

An eyewitness to the shooting, Ashleigh Hountz, testified she had seen Grant fire "aimlessly" into the crowd.

Day Staff Writer Karen Florin also contributed to this report.

i.larraneta@theday.com

Twitter: @larraneta

David Grant listens as the jury reads their verdict at New London Superior State Court Wednesday morning, April 1, 2015. (Aaron Flaum/NorwichBulletin.com pool photo)
David Grant listens as the jury reads their verdict at New London Superior State Court Wednesday morning, April 1, 2015. (Aaron Flaum/NorwichBulletin.com pool photo)

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